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A follow up photography book to our 2011 project "Malls Across America". 112 pages of new pictures from 1989.
A follow up photography book to our 2011 project "Malls Across America". 112 pages of new pictures from 1989.
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712 backers pledged $52,800 to help bring this project to life.

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The Decline of Mall Civilization: by Michael Galinsky

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Chris Stein from Blondie on "The Decline of Mall Civilization"
Chris Stein from Blondie on "The Decline of Mall Civilization"

The Decline of Mall Civilization

In 2010, I borrowed a scanner from a friend to digitize some old negatives and I came across ancient images capturing life inside shopping malls, a consumer culture that had been decimated by the Internet. I put the images online and they went viral. So I kickstarted a book, "Malls Across America", and they went more viral. In a crazy twist of fate, that book ended up getting released by the publisher Steidl who printed the work that inspired those photos - books by William Eggleston and Robert Frank.  Unfortunately, Steidl didn't print nearly enough of the books, so the Kickstarter backers of that project, "Malls Across America", were some of the few people who were able to get it. It has been out of print for 6 years now, and currently trades for upwards of $1000.  At some point I want to re-publish that book, but for the time being it remains out of print and out of reach. At first I thought I would use some of the classic images in the new book, "The Decline of Mall Civilization", but I found hundreds of other powerful images that deserved to be seen so we decided to keep it completely separate. The two books have very different feels as well. "Malls Across America", which was designed by the incomparable Peter Miles, is all single images over double page spreads. This time we spent a lot of time and effort pairing the images into diptychs that play off of each other in interesting ways.

We are incredibly excited to make "Decline of Mall Civilization" available.  We hope you might consider pre-ordering it via this Kickstarter - don't miss out. 

Sebastian and me by the blue Corolla that carried us across country.
Sebastian and me by the blue Corolla that carried us across country.

Backstory

In 1989, I was a sophomore at NYU when I took my first photo class, "Color Printing".  My teacher was awesome and our first assignment was to watch the film "River's Edge".  At the time, I was dating a girl who went to Stony Brook and I'd take the Long Island Railroad out to see her every other weekend.  One weekend, shortly after I had started the class and had to find a subject for my class project, I happened to go to the Smith Haven Mall with her and immediately knew I'd found a place to shoot. I was a Religious Studies major who took a lot of anthropology and sociology courses, which helped me to think of the the mall in complex ways. I was especially interested in considering the mall as something of a privatized public square. While I focused on the people, I thought about the way that they interacted with each other and the space. The teacher loved the work and encouraged me to continue it that summer. So my friend Sebastian and I packed ourselves in his Corolla station wagon and we hit the road without any real plan at all. 

Richard Sandler on "The Decline of Mall Civilization". Sandler published "Eyes of the City" last year
Richard Sandler on "The Decline of Mall Civilization". Sandler published "Eyes of the City" last year

Our first stop was Columbus Ohio. We stayed with my aunt but we didn't find a mall. We then hightailed it to Detroit where we hit the jackpot with the Woodfield Mall.  It's a beauty and there are probably a dozen in the book from that one. Next stop was Chicago- then South Dakota, and on and on. All in all, we hit about 15 malls. We got some great images but it wasn't really their time. By 1989, the "Pictures Generation" - with its focus on more constructed and deconstructed images - had pushed street photography out of the galleries. They were doubling down on big ideas and conceptual work. I went on to take a couple other photo classes, but turned my attention to making music and making films. I shot a lot of images, but my main outlets for them were fanzines and album covers. I moved on to making films.  In 2010, I re-discovered these slides and the rest is history. 

The 10 images that will be available as limited artist's proofs 

Once you back the project you'll be able to see more of the images in the book via the updates. Below are the 10 images that will be available as artist proofs as part of the Kickstarter.  

Print choice 1- from Malls Across America
Print choice 1- from Malls Across America
Print choice 2 - from Malls Across America
Print choice 2 - from Malls Across America
Print choice 3 - from Malls Across America
Print choice 3 - from Malls Across America
Print choice 4 - from Malls Across America
Print choice 4 - from Malls Across America
Print Choice 5 - from Malls Across America
Print Choice 5 - from Malls Across America
Print choice 6 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice 6 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice 7 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice 7 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice number 8 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice number 8 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice 9 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print choice 9 - from Decline of Mall Civilization
Print Choice 10 - from Decline of Mall Civilization - this will be the cover image
Print Choice 10 - from Decline of Mall Civilization - this will be the cover image
Four images at the Nasher museum. Two of these are still available - see below
Four images at the Nasher museum. Two of these are still available - see below
Framed image #1 "Escalator couple" from Nasher Museum show - 1 framed print available
Framed image #1 "Escalator couple" from Nasher Museum show - 1 framed print available
Framed image #2 "Youth Gone Wild" from Nasher Museum show - one framed print available
Framed image #2 "Youth Gone Wild" from Nasher Museum show - one framed print available

Risks and challenges

We have the book designed and ready to print, the printer picked out, schedule set, and a package shipper arranged to get the books out in a timely manner. If the Kickstarter is successful we'll have the money to print the books and have them back by November at the latest. Backers outside the US will receive their books a bit later as shipping takes a while- but we will make every effort to do so efficiently. We are exploring shipping cartons of book to Europe directly from the printing plant to streamline the process.

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    4 by 6 print mailed as a postcard

    We'll print up a few different images and send them out to backers at the 10 dollar reward level.

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    The Decline of Mall Civilization Book

    By pre-ordering the book you'll get it ahead of the pack. The book is designed and ready to send to the printer. It is 112 pages with all new images (you may have seen some of them as they have gone viral- but there are no repeats from Malls Across America). Our schedule calls for the books to reach us by October and we hope to turn them around by November for early Christmas shopping. The last book sold out before it hit stores, so act fast to make sure you don't miss out

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    2 books! - get one for a friend as well

    We think you'll want to share the book= but also will want one for yourself as well. So, for a super discount price we're offering you get one - get one almost half off. Remember this is the perfect Christmas gift!

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    Signed Book + 5 X 7 print

    Each copy of the book will get a personal drawing and a signed 5 by 7 print to go in it. We'll choose a number of different images to print- dealer's choice- as they say in our kid's class- you get what you get and you don't get upset. We will take suggestions but will not be able to guarantee the print. Check the project story to see the images available. The first people to back the project and request an image will get their choices. We are going to print 10 of each image in each size.

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    Buy One Get one for a friend Signed

    One backer asked if there was a possibility of getting the buy one get one for a friend option for signed books. Their ask is our command. Like the previous option this one comes with 5 by 7 print for each.

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    Signed Book + 8 by 12 print

    Each copy of the book will get a personal drawing and a signed 8 by 12 print to go in it. We will take suggestions but will not be able to guarantee that the print you want is available. Check the Kickstarter story to see the images available. The first people to back the project and request an image will get their choices. The 8 by 12's will be an open edition of artist proofs

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    Signed Book + 12 x 18 print

    Each copy of the book will get a personal drawing and a signed 12 by 18 artist proof to go with it. Dealer's choice. We will take suggestions but will not be able to guarantee the print. Check the story to see the images available. The first people to back the project and request an image will get their choices. We are going to print and number 3 of each image in each size.

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    Signed Book + 16 X 24 print

    Each copy of the book will get a personal drawing and a signed 16 by 24 artist proof to go with it. Dealer's choice. We will take suggestions but will not be able to guarantee the print. Check the story to see the images available. The first people to back the project and request an image will get their choices. We are going to print and number an edition of 3 of each image.

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    A Folio of 10 Artist's Proofs @ 8 X 112

    Along with a copy of Decline of Malls Civilization we will include 10 artist's proofs. We'll print a limited number of folios (3) that will include 10 x ink jet archival prints. These will not be part of a numbered edition but they will be signed. The images in the folio are to be determined but they will be culled from both "Malls Across America" and "The Decline of Mall Civilization".

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    A Folio of 10 Artist's Proofs @ 12 X 18

    Along with a copy of Decline of Malls Civilization we will include 10 artist's proofs. We'll print a limited number of folios (3) that will include 10 ink jet archival prints. These will not be part of a numbered edition but they will be signed. The images in the folio are to be determined but they will be culled from both "Malls Across America" and "The Decline of Mall Civilization"

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    Framed 20x30 print- Couple on Escalator

    4 of the mall images were included in a show at the Nasher Museum in Durham, NC called "Across County Lines" which opened November 2018. Two of these are still available. Framed image #1 on the Story page is the couple going down an escalator.

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    Framed 20x30 print : Youth Gone Wild

    4 of the mall images were included in a show at the Nasher Museum in Durham, NC called "Across County Lines". Two of these are still available. Framed print #2 is "Youth Gone Wild"

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    Signed Malls Across America + 8 X 12

    We'll include signed versions of the Decline of Mall Civilization and the original Steidl edition of Malls Across America. We will also include an 8 by 12 print.

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Funding period

- (35 days)